Stunning Gold Indian Ceremonial Necklace at Plymouth Auction Rooms
A fine antique Indian gold ceremonial wedding necklace once owned by a wealthy South African Indian businessman who was a friend of Mahatma Gandhi is coming up for auction in Plymouth this month.
R.B Chetty (Ramaswami Balaguri Chetty) was a wealthy businessman and renowned philanthropist who arrived in South Africa in 1896. He lived in Durban from 1902 and became principal of the Durban Imperial Cigar manufacturing company amongst other business interests he owned salt mines and plantations. In 1908 he represented South African Indians at the Conference of the Indian National Congress in Madras and was one of the wealthiest supporters of Mahatma Gandhi.
In the 1936 South African Indian Who’s Who, R.G.Chetty is listed. He was active in the support of better working conditions for Indian immigrants in South Africa. He later purchased a villa in the district of Kasturbai in Porayar which is now a national monument to Mahatma Gandhi’s wife Kasturbai Gandhi.
The impressive gold necklace was commissioned by Chetty for his wedding in the late 1800’s, and has been recognised in Hindu culture as an important symbolic ceremonial piece of jewellery. It was used during Hindu rituals and blessings at religious temples. It was also loaned to one of the top temples in India, the Sabarimala Temple of Swami Ayyapan on Big Festival days to adorn the God.
The necklace is set with 72 gold coins mostly Victoria half sovereigns but also some late fantasy (privately struck) gold coins all with the portrait of Queen Victoria on the obverse and the heraldic shield on the reverse. They are beautifully set in scroll and engraved individual mounts on a heavy 22-carat necklace finely with a clasp etched ‘RBC’.
The necklace has been handed down through the Chetty family and is being sold by his great-granddaughter who also wore this necklace on her wedding day.
This rare and important piece of Indian culture will be coming up for auction on 12th May at Plymouth Auction Rooms and is expected to sell for up to £20,000 (Lot 085).